Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Involving Students in Building Assessments

We have posted previously about creating digital assessments as teachers, but having students actively involved in creating questions can be a great way to engage them (and each other) in content.  When students create their own quiz questions, for example, they have to both review the material and think about what makes a good question.   Basically, it can encourage a metacognitive approach to learning.
For this type of activity, one option we have is to use a Group in Schoology (in CCSD, school-based admins and district level technology support can create groups).  Because a Group is a place designed for collaborating and building learning materials, it's a great spot to have students engage in similar work.  Students can join a Group using an access code (or they can be added manually in the Members area).  They can add test questions -- in additon to uploading files or adding links -- as long as they are co-admins in the Group (they have the crown).

To add questions into an existing test/quiz template, students can use the settings wheel to edit questions.  Encourage them to be thoughtful about different question types for quizzes, consider having them include multimedia or images that support concepts, and perhaps have them think about aligning resources to learning outcomes.  As with any learning activity, be clear about your expectations and how you expect them to complete the task.

Once the students have added items, they can be previewed and edited by the teacher & other group members. In a group, members can view what an item looks like, but actual interaction for something like a quiz happens in a course.  This lets the teacher decide what items to bring into a course for student interaction.

So what can students do as admins?  In our system, we have it set so that they can add things like updates and resources, but they cannot (even as admins) change group settings, message anyone other than teachers, and delete the group.  While they can delete items in a group (like links or files), anything deleted goes into the Recycle Bin for the Group which can be restored by the teacher.

While Schoology is one way for students to generate questions, there are many other options to accomplish this, including Google Forms.  If you need help or have questions about how you  might do this with students, please contact your school's technology coordinator or your Technology & Learning Coach.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In Case You Missed It...

We've got you covered! The Office of Instructional Technology provides Tuesday Tech Tips aimed at providing teachers with ideas and support to thoughtfully integrate and utilize technology in their instruction to maximize student learning. So, in case you missed these past posts, we wanted to share our top 5 favorite blog posts (in no particular order):

Office of Instructional Technology Top 5 Blogs:

  1. Creating Thinking Maps in Google Drawings
    Check out the Google Template Gallery for access to Thinking Maps for you and your students.  This could be a great link to include in Schoology as well.

  2. Using Schoology with Google Drive
    Did you know that students can create content right inside of Schoology that also lives in their Google Drive?  This blog post is all about working smarter, not harder.

  3. Embedding Quizlet into SchoologyQuizlet is a fantastic site for your students to interact with vocabulary and content. Check out this blog to see how you can create a deck of flashcards and embed them right into Schoology.

  4. Embedding Google Presentations into Schoology Assessments
    Are you wanting to provide your students with opportunities to analyze multiple sources from diverse media and formats?  If so, check out this blog and the templates provided.

  5. Differentiation using grading groups in COLE 3.0/Schoology
    Are you looking for a way to differentiate your content, the process or product? Schoology makes it pretty easy set up grading groups to meet the needs of your diverse learners.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Reading, Writing, & Listening with Online Discussion Boards

When we think about giving students opportunities to synthesize ideas from multiple sources, it typically involves providing different articles for kids to read and synthesize.  However, in addition to reading and responding to written sources or graphics, our students must also be good online listeners, able to "integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally."*  As teachers, we need to be sure we're providing opportunities to have kids read, write, and listen in a digital environment.

One option for this type of activity is to use Schoology's discussion boards. Not only are they a great entry point into digital writing, but they also provide a way for students to listen, share ideas and "participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively."**  Here are a few suggestions for including a listening component into a discussion board.

1.  Use the recording tool built into Schoology.  As Enterprise users of Schoology, we have the ability to record up to 11 minutes of audio or 10 minutes of webcam video into just about anything, including discussion boards.  If you want to record into Schoology, use the microphone icon (and you can record audio and video on iOS and Android devices as well).  You could read aloud the version of a story or article, provide a link to another resource, and ask students to respond (or have students record themselves and have their peers listen and respond either in writing or using audio).

2.  Upload an audio or video file.  If you have something already stored on your computer or mobile device, you can upload it into the discussion board using the file icon or by choose "Image/Media" under the "Insert Content" menu.  (Be very mindful of copyright, and don't repost something that we can't legally share with students.)  If you are looking for materials you or your students didn't create, the Open Educational Resource Commons is a great place to look (and all copyright permissions are listed for each resource).

3.  Embed web-based video or audio content. If you can get embed code, Schoology allows you to put that into almost everything -- tests/quizzes, assignments, pages, and (you guessed it) discussion boards. You can either paste in the embed code using the link icon, or you can use the "Insert Content" icon to paste in the embed code into the actual topic itself (see animated example on the left).

Need help on using embed code?  See this post.

Don't forget that you can add multiple types of sources into an online discussion.  Images, files, recordings, and links can be included or embedded in a single post so that students can draw from multiple sources for their responses.   For those who are familiar with Google Presentations, those can also be used to embed multiple sources into Schoology (see Amber Paynter's post for more information).


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Magic of Embed Code

The Magic of <Embed Code>

When working with web sites, blogs, or a learning management system (LMS) like Schoology, one of the most useful things to use is embed code.  Sometimes you can find the embed code by looking for the "share" icon (upper left) or the code icon (upper right).  Sometimes, you'll see a button for "embed."

So, what exactly is embed code?  Embed code is the magic that lets you take content from another site (like YouTube, for example) and place it where you want (or embed it where you want).  And the best thing is that all you need to know is how to copy & paste.

The embedded Google Presentation below has examples of different types of content that you can embed -- and where you might find the code (included are examples for video, audio, maps, Google documents, and interactives).

Once you have the code, you can decide where you would like to place it.  In web pages or blogs, you may need to look for the "HTML" option and paste in the code. In something like Schoology, it's even easier.  You can paste embed code into a page, a discussion board, a test/quiz question, an assignment, and/or as a link.  To add embed code to interactive student activites in Schoology

  1. In the rich text editor window (like the Discussion Board example below), use the "Insert Content" icon.
  2. Choose "Image/Media."  
  3. Choose "From the Web" and make sure you choose "Media."
  4. Paste in the code, and the magic will appear when you save!

You can do a lot with embed code, and it can work very well for providing students with interactive material.  Now that you know what to look for, you'll likely start to see many opportunities to bring in other resources.  Happy embedding!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip(s): Top 5 Underutilized Schoology Tools

You�ve got the basics down when using Schoology, but are there tools you could be using that you haven�t yet heard about? Check out these underutilized but fantastic tools from Schoology. They just might help you save some precious time and increase the motivation of your students! 

1. TooltipsThe tooltip feature can be used to add definitions or more information to your content for students.  

How to use Tooltips:
  1. Create or edit something in your course materials or resources using the Rich Text Editor.
  2. Highlight a word or words, then select the Insert Content button.
  3. Choose Tooltip and add any information you want.

**You can also add a tooltip to an image. This could be effective for foreign language or ELA students, or for pictures showing scientific concepts. The ideas are endless!

2. Workload Planning
Do your students ever complain about all of the other work they have due on the same day you chose for your test or project to be due? Now you have the tool necessary to relieve your students' anxiety over multiple assignments/tests/projects due on the same day.

The Workload Planning tool will help you see when your students have multiple items due on the same day. In the picture above, you see that the teacher chose to see when the student workload had 2 or more items.  This can be set for as many items as the teacher wishes.  I can see that 2 of the students in this class have 2 assignments due on the same day for different teachers.  Ashley Baker is one of those students.  If I click the 2 next to her name for Monday, September 8, I can see what Ashley is expected to complete, along with her teacher's name:  

I can then make an informed decision as to whether or not I should keep my due date as is, or change it to help my students be more successful on my test.  

3. Personal Learning Objectives
Does it seem like it takes never-ending clicks to choose a standard you want to align to an assignment, discussion, link or test question?  There's a way to simplify that process for fewer clicks to standards you use often. 

1. Go to your Personal Resources. 
2. Click Learning Objectives and Add.  From Add, you can create a folder in which you can add several related standards, or you can add standards one at a time. 

Once the standards are in your personal Learning Objectives, when you click the target, you'll choose Learning Objectives/Custom Learning Objectives/Personal and you will see your folders and the standards you picked. That can save you 5 or more clicks!

4. Badges
Before learning HOW to create and award badges in Schoology, we need to think about WHY we should all use badges in Schoology. I think this is best explained by Keith Sorensen, a Technology Coordinator at a high school in Illinois.  Click here to read his blog post.  Basically, Keith explains that we all love to work for something, and grades don't motivate everyone.  Think of the Boy and Girl Scouts, the U.S. Military, and video games.  They all award badges for hard work well done.  

Here's how to create and award a badge in Schoology: 

1. On the left side of your Schoology course, go to Badges. Click Add Badges, and you will be able to create new badges, import badges you have saved in your resources, or find badges that have already been created by Schoology.

 2. Once you have picked some of Schoology's badges and added them to your course, you can click in the box by a student's name to award that badge to him/her.  Or, you can click on the down arrow by a badge, and either award it to all students, revoke it from all students, or delete the badge. 

3. Want to make your own badges? It's easy! Go to Create New Badge from Add Badges in your course. Then you'll get the window to the right.  Just name it, pick an outline and color, and upload a picture you have saved to your computer. *Note: You might want to make sure there is some white space around the picture before you upload it so it will fit well in the center of the shape. Click Submit, and you'll have your own badge created and ready to use. 

You can also create badges within your Personal Resources in Schoology by going to Add Resources/Add Badge.  

4. The badges you create will have more choices in the drop-down than a Schoology-created badge, including Edit, Save to Resources, and Copy to Courses.

Your students will get notifications when they receive a badge from you, and they will also show up in the students' user profiles.

Have fun with Badges!  I know your students will love them! 

5. Mobile Grading Rubrics
Say your students complete an assignment or homework on paper, and you want to grade them as you walk around the room. You have to write down all of the scores and then enter them into Schoology later, right? Wrong! You now have the power to grade from your mobile device! Mobile grading rubrics can also be handy when you are grading assignments turned in electronically. You can have the assignment open on your computer, and the Schoology app open on your mobile device to record grades.

Here's how it works:

On any device, start by opening the Schoology app. Make sure it's updated to the most recent version. Log in and navigate to your course. Find the assignment, and click on it.  
On an Android device:
1. Click on Comments, and choose Grades/Submissions.

2. Click on a student's name, and the rubric will pop up.  

3. Click on the rating you choose to rate each criteria, and click speech bubbles next to the points to add comments for each criteria if you wish. The example to the right shows that there are comments for the bottom two criteria, indicated by the plus signs in the speech bubbles.

On an iOS device:
1. Click on Submissions, then click on the rubric icon next to a student's name.
2. Click on the rating you choose to rate each criteria, and click speech bubbles next to the points to add comments for each criteria if you wish. The example to the right shows that there are comments for the bottom two criteria, indicated by the plus signs in the speech bubbles.

Enjoy these fantastic Schoology tools.  They will hopefully save you some valuable time and support your students in being more highly motivated to succeed in your class and beyond!  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip(s): 7 Classroom Management Ideas for the Technology-rich Classroom

Image created by Amber Paynter
Over the past year, Cherry Creek Schools has experienced an increase in classroom technology access, especially with the infusion of Chromebooks, updated student labs, and a stronger wireless network.   Providing us with some exciting possibilities for teaching and learning, expanded access also presents us with some other considerations.  Amber Paynter posted about Digital Citizenship last week, and this week's tech tip is focused on another implication: classroom management.  Here are seven things to think about when teaching in a technology-rich environment.

cc image courtesy of thriveschool.org
1.  Maximize the layout of your room.  If possible, arrange seats/tables/desks so that you can easily move among them and can see multiple screens at once.  Some teachers have different arrangements for different activities (desks/seats facing the periphery during independent work, facing front during direct instruction), others use designated areas in the room for technology activities (like stations or centers), and others use mirrors around the room to provide multiple "eyes" in the room.  Keep carts placed where they won't block access to doors, and keep the cord tripping potential to a minimum.

2.  Assign specific devices to specific students.  One of the best ways to keep our devices in working order is to assign students to specific devices every time they are used.  This not only provides an accountability measure, but it also helps when files might need to be temporarily stored on a device.  (If you won't have consistent machines/devices on a regular basis, have printed copies of your roster handy so that you can track who has what and when.)

3.  Have a student helper (or helpers) for cart management & tech support. Students can be a great help in the classroom.  A student whose responsibilities include unplugging & handing out machines and storing/plugging them back in helps manage the distribution and collection of technology while minimizing chaos in front of the cart.  Using a tech tool with your class?  Some teachers use "Ask 3, then me" to help manage the tech questions during class.  Have your class "tech-sperts" be the go-to for questions about the tool so you are free to work with students on the more important aspects, like the content.

4.  Establish verbal (or other) cues for putting technology "on hold."  It might be flashing the lights in the room or using a specific phrase, but be sure to let your students know how you will communicate when devices need to be "sleeping" or inactive.  Some teachers have the "45 degree rule" for laptops, some call for Technology Time-outs, and others have "face (down) time."  Sharing your cues with parents can also help them manage technology at home -- the more consistent we can be between school and home, the better.  (A side benefit to sleeping machines is battery life -- having nap time for devices will likely increase how long they can be used before charging.)

5.  Use proximity, but also consider using a management tool like gScholar.  Perhaps our best behavior management strategy is physical proximity, so be sure you can easily move around the room (see tip #1). A management tool like gScholar (currently in beta), is a solution for the Chrome browser.  gScholar lets you see which Chrome browser tabs are currently open, send messages to student screens, close open tabs or send URLs to the class or individual students, and capture screen shots (class-wide or individual kids).  Proximity is undoubtedly effective, but digital management tools can also be helpful since it's difficult to be everywhere at once. (For more information, contact your school's technology coordinator/building tech or your feeder's Technology & Learning Coaches.)

cc image courtesy of snapperworth
6.  "Catch" students doing something right and celebrate it.  While you may have to deal with off-task behavior at times in any learning environment, be sure to give public and private props to students who are following directions, doing outstanding work, and being good digital citizens.  You can use badges in Schoology, a free tool like Class Dojo, or whatever you choose to create a positive classroom environment that reinforces what you want to see in your students.
7.  Use COLE 3.0/Schoology to structure activities.  While Schoology can be used for any learning activity (offline or online), it's especially powerful for technology-based activities. Schoology lets you post directions (both in written & audio form), sequence the steps you want students to follow, differentiate lessons, link to specific learning resources, host submitted digital work, give assessments, and provide digital  feedback.   And because its web-based and available for iOS or Android devices via the free app, it can be used flexibly in our mixed device classrooms. 

Most of the tips listed above are good for any learning environment (structured activities, consistent routines and procedures, positive reinforcement, etc.).   Technology may elicit some additional management considerations, but thoughtful approaches to how that looks and works in your classroom will go a long way.

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...